Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Summer is quickly wrapping up, for students at least.
August is typically back to school month, for me in particular.
As a full- time college student at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, this is typically my month to pack up and prepare for my 12-hour car ride back to campus. Traditionally, by August 15th, I’m completely moved into my college residence, awaiting the start of classes.
This year, plans are different.
I never thought this would be the start to my senior year...
COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of the world.
Beyond the effect it's had on us, it’s plain to see the impact COVID-19 has had on the economy, business owners, homeowners, etc. Since COVID-19 began, thousands of stores and businesses have shut down or filed for bankruptcy.
The record number of people who have filed for unemployment since the start of the pandemic is a clear indicator of the effect the virus has had on the world and the economy.
We always see the most impact when our pockets are involved.
The economy is not the only aspect of the world that’s been affected by the coronavirus. Students, specifically college students, have been on a roller coaster since they were forced off-campus in March.
The uncertainty of the coronavirus mixed with the impact it has had on the economy has made it very difficult for college students to navigate during this time.
As the number of coronavirus cases continued to increase across the country in February and March, schools closed indefinitely, forcing students off-campus. My university was one of the thousands of universities that closed when the number of cases begins to spike in March. As a result, classes were transitioned to virtual learning and campus closed for the future.
When the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic in March, I never expected we would still be in the midst with cases continuing to increase across the world. The gradual spread of COVID-19 across the world for the second time, similar to March when the pandemic begins, has lead many to suspect a second outbreak is quickly approaching.
Educational systems have had a difficult time planning an academic semester year that will be safe for students and faculty because of the unknowns associated with the future and the virus.
In early June, when the United States began to experience a brief decline in new cases and coronavirus related deaths, many students were optimistic about the future. Universities begin to propose academic plans for the upcoming academic year, all including strict social distancing guidelines.
Universities choose between these two options for the upcoming year.
Students were given the option to between distance learning or in-person instruction.
The university made the decision between virtual or distance learning.
My university is one university that intends to open campus for the fall with strict social distancing guidelines in place, including the requirement of masks on campus and the restrictions of large crowds or gatherings.
Early into the summer, students were sent a survey to complete regarding which option they prefer for the upcoming semester. After a diligent review of all the surveys, North Carolina A&T elected to give students the option to choose because the results were so spilt.
After deep thought, I choose virtual learning because it's the safest option for me.
Although it would be ideal to experience my senior year on campus with my friends, getting the highest level of instruction, I choose online classes for health and safety reasons. I genuinely did not believe being on campus for in-person learning would be safe.
As a senior, most of the classes I need in order to graduate on time are not offered online. By making the choice to take virtual classes this semester, my graduation date was inturn pushed back. After three and a half years on the Dean’s List, not graduating on time as I planned is a big blow for me. This tough situation I faced is one college students are facing all across the country.
While everyone is being impacted in different ways, to different instincts by this virus, the effect on college students has been hard and maybe overlooked.